Book Review: South Africa’s Forgotten Revival

Author: Olea Nel                   Reviewed by Sylvia Bester

Although this book was already reviewed by us a few years ago, we felt it was worth remembering it ahead of Heritage Day celebrations in South Africa.  This is the story of the Cape’s Great Awakening in 1860 which left a precious heritage that is still evident today.

South Africa's Forgotten RevivalIn this very informative and uplifting book, Dr Nel recounts the facts around the almost “overnight” revival that changed the lives of many South African people. It is evident that this is an exceptional piece of historical research about a period that has been “forgotten” by many.  It is the story of Andrew Murray, a young minister from Scotland who defended the Church against the onslaught of liberalism and illiteracy. Andrew was one of the most important and blessed church leaders in South African history. His books have been translated into many languages and are still beloved by millions of Christians all over the world.

It is also the story of Nicolaas Hofmeyr and Gotlieb van der Lingen who, in spite of their robust faith, could not  in their own strength, breathe life into their congregations and awaken their frigid hearts to persevere in prayer. It is the story of how God in his Mercy had to take the initiative and place the desire for communal prayer into the hearts of believers.

On page 25 we  are told of the quandary the semi-literate Afrikaners found themselves. “The clergy considered their vernacular, Afrikaans, to be unworthy of religious observances, including personal devotions”.  Fortunately we read that our sovereign God had no intention of leaving the situation that way, and we find out exactly what God’s goals for the Afrikaner were.

We are reminded that the best weapon of attack is the sword. This sword is the sword of the Spirit- the Word of God.   It is with this weapon that Andrew Murray arms himself to break down every barrier to worship.  Dr Christo Nel says in the foreword: May God help us to remember what it is like when our Lord works sovereignly  and uniquely”

As you  begin to read this story you will find, as I  did, that you cannot put it down you and will be encouraged and amazed at the wonderful and glorious works of our Lord!

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